The Big Step Up: A-Levels to University

Congratulations, you've conquered the academic battlefield of A-levels and now, it's time for the ultimate adventure: University! 

Get ready for a thrilling ride filled with unique challenges and opportunities that will shape the superhero version of you that’s ready to change the world. 

In this blog, I'll be your trusty guide, unravelling the mysteries of the big transition and making the experience a little less daunting. 

Say goodbye to your worries and hello to all the valuable insight that will make this the best chapter of your life. Let's navigate this exciting chapter together and unleash your full potential!

Leap of Independence

Welcome to a new world of university life, where independence takes centre stage! Brace yourself for a wild ride filled with freedom, choices, and the chance to shape your own destiny. 

Say goodbye to nagging teachers and hello to being the captain of your own ship. Be warned though - if you’re not careful where you steer your ship, your expedition through university could last about as long as the Titanic!

In university, you're almost completely in charge of your academic and personal journey. No more hand-holding through tough topics or reminders on deadlines, it's all on you.

Everyone takes a bit to get used to this type of organisation - I know you will rise to the challenge like many before you. You will not be left without support, the university is there to help.  

The reliance on self-study is something that most new students take for granted. In your first year, you may be able to skate by with your old last-minute study habits but it’s vital you stay disciplined and adhere to a self-imposed study schedule as early as possible to stand the best chance of performing well throughout the course. 

Of course, allowing yourself time to enjoy independent living and socialise is equally important - so use your first year to find that balance rather than disregard the importance of studying entirely!

Acquire Decision-making Superpowers. 

Choosing your course, handpicking exciting modules, and creatting your study schedule. It's like building a personalised curriculum tailored to your passions. Say goodbye to rigid structures and hello to academic freedom! 

You're the master of your social life and extracurricular activities too. Join quirky clubs, start your own, explore hidden talents and embrace the community spirit. It's your call!

Now it's time to develop superhero-level survival skills: self-discipline and time management. Balance academics and personal responsibilities like a tightrope walker. Master prioritisation, conquer your workload, and find the sweet spot between studying and socialising. 

University is your ultimate training ground. Hone your multitasking abilities, unleash your potential, and embrace the excitement. So buckle up, my independent adventurer, and soar into the exhilarating world of university life.  

 “Embrace the freedom, seize opportunities, and discover the superhero within you!”

Forming a Support System

Get ready to be blown away by the incredible support system that universities have in store for you! They know that the transition can be a bit nerve-wracking, so they've assembled a dream team to help you soar through any challenges that come your way. Let's meet your superheroes!

First up, your academic advisor or tutor. They're like the wise Yoda of your academic journey, guiding you through course selections and answering all your burning academic questions. 

Need help with essays or presentations? Fear not! Universities have epic resources like writing labs and skills labs, where you can level up your work and become a master wordsmith or a captivating presenter. They are usually free but optional so seek them out.

But wait, there's more! Mental well-being is a top priority, so universities have assembled a league of counsellors who are here to listen, support, and equip you with coping strategies for a healthy mind. Remember, reaching out is a sign of strength, and these services are way more popular among your fellow students than you might think! 

Speaking of fellow students, they're an essential part of your support squad too. Form study groups, share laughs, and conquer the academic challenges together. It's like having your very own Avengers team!

So gear up, because universities have your back like superheroes. With academic advisors, counselling services, peer support, and skill-building workshops, you're equipped to unleash your full potential. Get ready to embark on an exhilarating university adventure where you'll conquer challenges, discover new strengths, and become the superhero of your own story!

“Embrace the support, have fun, and let your inner superhero shine!

Figuring out your Learning Style

Embark on an epic quest to uncover your supercharged learning style at university! Get ready to unleash your learning powers and conquer the academic realm like a true hero.

In this thrilling adventure, you'll discover that each student has a unique learning style. Are you a visual wizard, conjuring knowledge through captivating diagrams and colourful charts? 

Or perhaps you're an auditory rockstar, absorbing information like a lyrical maestro through lively lectures and engaging discussions. 

Maybe you're a kinesthetic superhero, leaping into action and absorbing knowledge through hands-on experiences and interactive activities.

But fear not, intrepid learner! The fun doesn't stop there. It's time to embark on daring experiments to find your ultimate study techniques. Dive into a world of visual aids, wield the mighty power of mind maps, or unleash audio resources that tickle your auditory senses. 

Join forces with fellow students in thrilling group discussions, where knowledge is shared, ideas collide, and sparks of inspiration fly. Mix and match strategies like a mad scientist, fearlessly combining the best of each to create your very own learning potion.

Keep your keen observation skills sharp, for they hold the key to unlocking your true learning potential. Notice how you naturally approach tasks, organise your notes, and what study habits truly ignite your learning superpowers. 

Embrace the technological wonders of the digital age, where interactive visualisations, online quizzes, and virtual labs become your trusty sidekicks on the quest for knowledge.

Remember, your learning style may evolve and transform like a shape-shifting hero. Stay open to new strategies and adapt to different learning environments. 

So, fellow adventurers, gear up for a journey of self-discovery! Unleash your learning style, vanquish academic challenges, and seize the incredible powers that will guide you to victory in the university realm. 

Your mission awaits – let the fun-filled quest begin! May your learning powers shine bright and lead you to academic greatness!

“Embrace the joy of flexibility, for it is in the realm of change that true growth and discovery occur.”

Survival Tips for First Year

As students make the leap from A-levels to university, they embark on a thrilling and transformative journey. The transition brings with it a sense of independence and responsibility, nurturing essential life skills that will shape their future. 

From navigating lectures and seminars to building lasting friendships, university life presents countless opportunities for growth and self-discovery. It will also undoubtedly lead to some harsh lessons learned - which is what first year is for! 

Here are some final tips for getting a headstart on your university journey. Be sure to check out Sherpa’s “Going to uni checklist” blog so you can hit the ground running!

Ask for help

Universities have so much on to help ease the transition. Whether it’s the social, academic, financial, or mental health side of uni life that’s hitting you hardest, there is a mentor available to help get you through. 

Many students get through secondary school without needing much assistance - but rest assured there will be times when balancing your studies can get too much. It’s important to not be afraid of asking for help - no student gets through university working alone. Your fellow students will also usually be happy to trade ideas on how to solve a problem.


Scheduling can be an intimidating side of university life. Every course is different but you will usually enrol to study several modules from a range of options at the beginning of every year. Make sure you choose one of every option required to get the credits you need to pass the year. 

If you have lots of ‘free time’ in your timetable, you are usually expected to use this for self-study - reading the lecture notes for upcoming lectures, recommended literature or practicing worksheets for the next tutorial. 


Lectures can work a little differently from school lessons - they can start as early as 8 am and as late as 7 pm! They can also change in terms of location and be skipped from week to week so keep a close eye on a timetable. 

It’s best to download the official calendar file to your phone and other devices for live updates. They can be quite fast paced so it might be a good idea to type notes, write using an tablet or record it all using an audio recorder to transcribe.


Depending on each course and universities policy, lectures can seem optional to attend, however they often take random attendance checks which can affect your ability to pass the year. 

Regardless of policy, make sure you attend as many lectures as possible to give you a chance to absorb the information when properly explained. Most lecture slides need context and written notes to make sense so don’t assume you can catch up and understand what happened. 

Tutor Meetings

Your academic tutor is usually an assigned lecturer for the academic and personal support of new students. They may schedule regular private meetings with you to catch up on workload but often you will need to seek them out for assistance. This can be difficult due to their teaching roles around the university. 

Tutorials / Seminars

These are regular smaller classroom settings where you may be given time to ask for help with current course content or go through each others work, usually with a specifically assigned piece of work for each session. 

There will be older students and lecturers to help explain anything you are struggling with. They can be optional - but it is so valuable to get this help as your personal academic tutor is usually quite busy. 

Private Tuition

Between your tutorials, seminars and academic tutor there are enough opportunities to seek help with what you are struggling with during your course - however these sessions can be oversubscribed, cancelled or rushed without getting the attention you need to learn and they only happen every few weeks. 

It’s a good idea to have a private one-to-one online tutor on hand to help you in the evenings or free time to boost your understanding and help you catch up on the course content. It’s something my parents really wish they had during my university days!


Unfortunately “the dog ate my homework” won’t cut it! University deadlines come with very strict penalties where you can be 1 second late and lose 5%, or up to 30 minutes late you won’t get more than the lowest pass. 

Hand-ins are either handled digitally with plagiarism checks on an online learning management system (LMS eg. Moodle) or require printing and then submitted at an office on time. 

You should be introduced to using your LMS during induction week as it is the hub for all of your lecture slides, tutorial worksheets, coursework and exam results. Your university will also have a process for allowing extra time or marking work based on exceptional circumstances if you have evidence to prove you need it. 


Each course has its own way of using marks towards the final degree classification (First Class, 2:1, 2:2 etc.). Usually, first-year results do not have any bearing on the final mark - but be aware that you must pass all of your exams to progress. The first year also sees the most amount of resits and consequently drop-outs. 

So with all that said, embrace this exciting transition with open arms. Know that the challenges and triumphs along the way will shape you into the confident, knowledgeable, and well-rounded individual you aspire to be. 

Get ready to step into a world of endless possibilities, where the pursuit of knowledge and personal growth intertwine, paving the way for a bright future ahead. The journey from A-levels to university is just the beginning of an incredible adventure that awaits.

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Rajvir S


Experienced Tutor for 11+, KS3, GCSE & A-Level

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